‘He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.’ Psalm 121.3
God keeps us.
No one knew this more than King David.
When these words were written in the Torah, the word for ‘keep’ was the Hebrew word, ‘shamar’. This is a wonderful word with the full, colourful meaning of ‘to hedge about with thorns, to guard, to protect, to mark, to observe or preserve, to protect or save, to have charge over and to reserve, to take great care over and to tend.’
The picture painted here is of a sheepfold. Imagine a careful and attentive shepherd gathering his sheep in the evening and surrounding their resting spot with thorn bushes he has collected to deter predators. In doing this he is keeping his sheep.
This word is used over 400 times in the Old Testament and none more beautifully than in Numbers 6.22-27. Here, in the middle of laws that were necessary but burdensome, God speaks to Moses and gives him a blessing for Aaron to speak over the people as they meandered through desert sand.
‘The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up His face upon you and give you peace.’
Because wandering sheep need keeping.
So do I.
I need the Good Shepherd to gather me up when I am lost and to bring me home. I need Him to fight battles on my behalf and to hide me behind a thorny hedge of His love. I need a safe place to land. I need streams of water and green pastures and soul restoration. I need protection from enemies I haven’t noticed and decisions I haven’t thought through.
I need to know it doesn’t all depend on me.
Because, if I am honest, my Christian life is a mix. Sometimes I feel like a David fighting my Goliaths, with sky-high faith and smooth stones that hit their target; other days I feel like David’s sheep, all full of wandering and willfulness.
But my God keeps me even then. He is faithful beyond my ability to reciprocate and He is patient with my sheepy ways. I am set apart, marked for eternity by the Good Shepherd. My welfare is His concern; my wholeness is His priority.
He watches over me as I sleep in my bed and goodness and mercy follow me everywhere. He remembers His promises to me and prepares my heart and my life for their fulfilment. He quietly completes every good thing He has started.
He holds me so I cannot fall. He forgets all of my sins and remembers every hair on my head.
There is a place of rest for me if I can believe this is true; a place where my sleep is deep and shalom is my default. It is a place of security and joy and it is the place where great faith is grown.
And it is a place available to me every day by just believing that He is who He says that He is.
Let the Good Shepherd keep you today. He is good. He is able. You are safe. You are kept. You are His.